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Transportation Guru Leaves Legacy in Lee

Knowing all the intersections, stop signs and blind curves in Lee District earned Bob Heittman a reputation as the "go-to guy" for transportation questions. He passed away on May 10, leaving many to rely on their memories around Franconia, and Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) is working on dedicating a significant bridge in the Interstate Interchange in Bob Heittman's name.

Friends and colleagues in Lee District gathered at the Springfield Hilton on Wednesday, May 19, to eulogize Heittman and share their memories. Heittman was one of the originators of the "story swaps," meetings where fellow Franconia residents shared their memories about the area, so this was another one of those gatherings, said his son, Rob Heittman. It would have been his 67th birthday.

"I hope we can use tonight as a story swap about Bob," Rob Heittman said.

ROBERT JAMES HEITTMAN was born on May 19, 1937, in New England. He married his wife, Elaine, on May 16, 1959, and had a career in the Air Force until retiring as a master sergeant, settling in the Franconia area. He became involved in civic duties around his community and volunteered in the Lee District supervisor's office before Kauffman was elected.

Attendees that night included Kauffman; Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman Gerry Connolly (D); Dels. Vivian Watts (D-39th) and Mark Sickles (D-43rd); Tom Farley, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) administrator; and Sharon Kelso from the United Christian Ministries, to name a few. Kauffman remembered walking through the field that was to become the Franconia-Springfield Metro station.

"The greatest gift that Bob had was a vision," Kauffman said, before presenting Elaine Heittman with a Fairfax County flag.

When the Franconia-Springfield Parkway plans were drawn up, Heittman looked at the technical drawings and insisted a mistake had been made where the parkway crossed over Beulah Street. It turns out he was right, and VDOT changed the plans. Kauffman was amazed at Heittman's ability to see transportation improvements that worked in Lee District.

"He found a way to do it, time and time again," Kauffman said.

Connolly opened with a joke about the Boston area, where both he and Heittman were from.

"Bob always liked that joke," Connolly said, before going on about Heittman's civic life.

"Bob Heittman made a huge difference in this community," Connolly said.

Sickles remembered Heittman's in-depth descriptions of transportation situations.

"When you did not understand immediately, he'd draw you a picture," Sickles said.

"This morning, we were able to cut a ribbon on a project Bob worked on," said Sickles, referring to the B610 bridge from the inner loop of I-495 to I-95 south, which Kauffman is in the process of naming for Heittman. He worked on the development of that project with VDOT from the early 1980s.

Heittman is survived by his wife, Elaine Heittman; son Rob Heittman; and daughter-